Monday, October 18, 2010

"In the Still of the Night" is a murder in disguise

In life, as in death, things are not always what they seem. That was certainly true in the death of Ronda Reynolds. On the morning of December 16, 1998, Ron Reynolds called 911 and reported that sometime during the night his wife had shot and killed herself. Although her body lay just a few feet from the bed where Ron had slept, he claimed that he had not heard the single gunshot that took his wife’s life. The beautiful 33 year-old former Washington State Trooper lay in a pool of blood, wrapped in an electric blanket, a single gunshot wound to her temple. The cause of Ronda’s death was initially reported as undetermined, months later as suicide, back again as undetermined, and finally as suicide.

Within just a few months of Ronda and Ron Reynolds’ marriage, Ronda realized that she had made a serious mistake in her choice of a husband. The unmistakable signs that Ron was engaged in an extra-marital affair with his ex-wife and his preoccupation with money led Ronda to her decision to end the marriage. Ann Rule examines the facts and circumstances surrounding the death of Ronda Reynolds in her new true crime drama, In the Still of the Night.

“A death investigation is such a delicate procedure,” says Rule. “The best detectives must always view it first as a homicide, second as suicide, third as accidental, and finally as a natural death.”

Based largely upon statements made by Ron Reynolds, Lewis County Sheriff’s investigators assumed that Ronda’s death was a suicide. Only one detective, Jerry Berry, ascertained that the young woman’s death was homicide. Ann Rule deftly ferrets out truth from fiction in this mystery and puts the facts together as a cohesive whole that leads to the unmistakable conclusion that Ronda Reynolds was murdered.

Rule and Ronda’s mother, Barbara Thompson, worked together for over a decade to unravel the truth about Ronda’s death. Acclaimed forensic law enforcement consultant Vernon Geberth believed that the crime scene was staged and called the investigation a “major police malfeasance.” According to Geberth, “there are very few cases of which I can state with such strength and conviction that this was a homicide.” New York forensic and behavioral evidence expert, Ray Pierce, called the ruling of suicide “ridiculous.” Would a judge and jury agree? This reviewer will not disclose the results of the trial which sought to discredit the coroner who made the suicide ruling in Ronda’s death.

Ann Rule has often been called the “queen” of true crime. In the Still of the Night reinforces her well-earned title. As usual, her character development is strong and thorough and brings the reader into the story. Rule’s former police experience and her involvement with high-profile criminal cases have helped her hone and perfect her detective skills which she brings to bear in Ronda’s case. Together, Ann Rule and Barbara Thompson are undefeatable.
“To let a politically corrupt law enforcement agency lie, cover up, and disregard a human life to benefit their self-image is unacceptable,” says Barbara Thompson on her web site “The Lewis County Sheriff's Department and all other law enforcement agencies in our country need to be held accountable for their actions, so that no other parent, ever, will have to experience this type of indescribable nightmare.”

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